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Columbian Newspaper

Other Papers Say: Prison health care needs repair
Author: The Seattle Times

The following editorial originally appeared in The Seattle Times:

Recently, the state Office of Corrections Ombuds released a report that highlights the prison system’s latest reprehensible indifference toward the health of people in state custody. This time, delayed cancer treatments led to serious and deadly consequences.

Just days after the draft report on the disturbing delays for cancer treatment landed on Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk, Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair announced his May 1 early retirement. A governor’s spokesman said the retirement is unrelated to this latest report of yet another medical lapse.

Regardless, Sinclair’s departure poses an opportunity for the governor to make fixing the state’s litany of prison clinic failures a top priority. The next secretary must do better by the health of the state’s imprisoned population.

The latest report analyzed the cases of 11 incarcerated people, ages 35 to 68, whose cancer diagnoses and treatments were delayed by an average of 6.5 months after initial complaints.

The delay was 17 months in the case of one imprisoned man later found with “high-grade, aggressive” colon cancer. Another man, Michael Boswell, left a grieving mother and sister who asked the Legislature this spring to require reviews of in-custody deaths. Boswell, 37, died of skin cancer 14 months after staff at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla rebuffed his first plea for help in May 2019. His initial requested treatment of a growing lesion was “not authorized by DOC,” the report says. At least two of the others have been released with now-terminal cancers.

This treatment looks even worse in context of Corrections’ other recent health care failures. A 2020 OCO report described two cancer deaths at Monroe Correctional Complex after inadequate treatments. The DOC fired Monroe’s medical director after a series of erroneous treatments and seven other deaths.

State prison pandemic response has been a mixed bag. The 14 people in DOC custody who died of COVID-19 is one of the nation’s lowest state counts among the incarcerated, according to the Marshall Project. Still, the 6,191 people in custody who contracted COVID-19 constitutes more than 39 percent of the overall DOC incarcerated population. For the entire state population, the rate is about 5 percent.

The need for better prison health care is permanent, not a pandemic deficiency. Incarcerated people cannot easily seek out multiple medical opinions when they disagree with decisions made for them.

Gov. Inslee is responsible for this duty. He and his next corrections secretary must ensure that people in custody receive “basic medical services.” He and the Legislature should devote resources for humane reforms of a system that has failed too many, and enact Senate Bill 5119 to review unexpected in-custody deaths.

McManus: How to catch cheaters who don’t shoulder their share of the tax burden
Author: Doyle McManus

If you’ve filled out your federal tax return by now, you may have noticed that Form 1040 includes a new question on top: Did you have any transactions in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies last year?

It’s there because the Internal Revenue Service believes thousands of crypto holders have, ahem, forgotten to report capital gains income from selling their electronic assets.

And some might not have forgotten at all; cryptocurrency, designed to be anonymous, is a favorite financial vehicle for drug traffickers and money launderers. But even if your income comes from criminal activity, you’re still required to report it to the IRS.

The IRS’ hunt for hidden bitcoin is just one small corner of a vast tax revenue problem: underreported income.

According to a recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the richest 1 percent of households are failing to report an estimated 21 percent of their income to the IRS – significantly more than previously believed.

Another study by tax experts, including a former IRS commissioner, estimates that more than $600 billion in taxes on 2020 income will go uncollected.

Cryptocurrency is only part of the problem. Unreported offshore assets are another part. So are partnerships and other “pass-through” businesses, which are difficult for the IRS to audit.

The total shortfall over the coming decade could reach $7.5 trillion – more than enough to pay for all of President Joe Biden’s ambitious spending plans.

So here’s some unsolicited advice for Biden and Congress: Spend more money on the IRS.

That’s right: Spend more, to give the tax collectors a better chance to do their jobs.

For almost 25 years, Republicans, in a misguided campaign of anti-tax populism, have been slashing the IRS budget. The agency’s annual spending is more than 20 percent smaller in real dollars than it was 10 years ago, and its budget for audits and other tax enforcement is down even more. Its staff has been cut by more than 33,000.

As a result, only 0.45 percent of tax returns were audited in 2019, about half the percentage audited in 2010. For pass-through businesses, the audit rate was even lower.

Those enforcement cuts have been very visible. The agency might as well have sent taxpayers a notice that their chances of beating an audit were better than at any time in recent memory.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, a Beverly Hills, Calif., tax attorney who was appointed by President Donald Trump, estimates that every additional dollar in IRS spending will produce about $6 in added revenue. Economists outside the agency have projected that the return could be as high as $14.

Either way, that’s a terrific return on investment. As a business proposition, it’s a no-brainer: A company that thought it could recoup $6 in billings for every dollar spent would be hiring bill collectors by the dozen.

Biden and his aides have seen those numbers, too. The president has announced that he plans to pay for part of his big-ticket wish list by increasing IRS enforcement efforts directed at corporations and high-income individuals.

But the most effective remedy must also include a broader effort to persuade more people to comply with their tax obligations.

“If you have to dig it out through audits, you’re never going to get there,” Charles O. Rossotti, who served as IRS commissioner under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told me. “Enforcement is expensive and time-consuming; we want the least amount of enforcement that’s needed. What we really want is compliance.”

Rossotti says that when people know the IRS can see their income – as it does for anyone whose salary is reported on a W-2 form – compliance hits about 95 percent.

“But there’s a lot of business income that comes without any regular reporting – maybe as much as 50 percent,” he said. “That creates a kind of compliance-free zone.”

“Let me tell you my favorite statistic,” he said: In 1986, the tax law was changed to require anyone who claimed a dependent to include the person’s Social Security number on their tax return. “Almost 8 million children disappeared the following year.”

Rossotti and others have proposed authorizing the IRS to collect financial records automatically from banks and other institutions – a way of letting the agency see who has inflows of income that may not have been reported.

The idea is to let people know that their income isn’t invisible and give them a chance to report it before the auditor calls.

“It doesn’t need to be intrusive,” he said. “Honest businesspeople will welcome this. They know they’re at a competitive disadvantage if they’re paying taxes and their competitors aren’t.”

A version of that proposal has already circulated in Congress, although Biden hasn’t formally blessed it yet. He should, and find Republican allies to help him in the fight.

Collecting the taxes people are required to pay isn’t soaking the rich; it’s stopping the deadbeats and freeloaders from shirking a burden the rest of us are carrying.

Public meetings
Author: The Columbian
Monday

Vancouver City Council, meeting remotely. Available at CVTV.org or 1-866-899-4679, access code 529-737-997. 4 p.m., workshop: Strategic Plan update. n 6:30 p.m., regular meeting: National Poetry Month, Arbor Day and Red Cross Campaign proclamations, construction acceptance at Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant, bid award for sewer lining project, increase to janitor services contract, agreement with Camas for job order contracts. Community forum.

Washougal City Council, meeting remotely. For the workshop, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88296571343. For the regular meeting, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82500363787.  5 p.m., workshop: presentation on Clark County Historical Museum and city of Washougal partnership project, public works 2020 annual report, city manager’s office resolution supporting Washougal Federal Community Project funding requests. 7 p.m., regular meeting: Public Service Recognition Week, Emergency Assistance Utility Program, Interlocal Agreement on congestion mitigation and air quality grant, resolution updating personnel policy, resolution supporting Washougal Federal Community Project funding requests. Executive session to follow on agency enforcement.

Camas School District Board of Directors, meeting at 841 N.E. 22nd Ave., Camas. Limited in-person capacity for citizen attendees. Masks and social distancing required. Meeting also available via Zoom ID: 834 7432 3807. 5:30 p.m., special meeting: superintendent search update, elementary and secondary reopening updates.

Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors, meeting at 406 N.W. Fifth Ave., Battle Ground. Limited in-person capacity for citizen attendees. Masks and social distancing required. Meeting also available via Zoom ID: 830 2780 4260, passcode: 833808. 6 p.m., regular meeting: HVAC replacement at Pleasant Valley, District HVAC air filter services.

Neighborhood Associations Council of Clark County, meeting remotely. Go to https://clark-wa-gov.zoom.us/j/98116625449?pwd=aW91ZERwTU10eHdWMll1Sk5MQ2tkdz09, meeting ID 981 1662 5449, passcode 53868008.  7 p.m., regular meeting: Commission on Aging COVID-19 presentation, Housing Options and Action Plan update, School Advisory Council Discussion, Neighborhood Association Roundtable.

Yacolt Town Council, meeting remotely. Go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/631281085, access code 631 281 085. 7 p.m., regular meeting: update to personnel and procedure manual, North County EMS tax levy, National Poetry Month proclamation, resolution on selling off surplus, selling off excess fill dirt, developing park around park tree, Department of Corrections work crew agreement.

Tuesday

Clark County Parks Advisory Board, meeting remotely. Dial 408-418-9388, access code 187 302 7872. 4 p.m., regular meeting: Transportations Systems Plan Sounding Board, general update/recruitments, PROS Plan update and discussion, COVID-19 Phase 3 update, Park Impact fees, Parks capital policies and rating criteria.

Clark Regional Wastewater District Board of Commissioners, closed to in-person attendance. Go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/682820621. To provide audio testimony, dial 872-240-3412, access Code: 682-820-621. 4 p.m., regular meeting: ratify and confirm previous payments issued, Peterson Machinery Latecomer Reimbursement – Authorization to schedule public hearing, Urban Downs Latecomer Reimbursement – Authorization to Schedule Public Hearing.  5 p.m., public hearings: Pleasant Hollow Latecomer Reimbursement, Rivendell Subdivision Phase 4-6 Latecomer Reimbursement.

Vancouver Planning Commission, meeting remotely. Available via phone at 1-224-501-3412, conference ID 939-987-957 or online at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/939987957. 4:30 p.m., regular meeting: Heights District Plan implementation, HP Section 30 Master Plan.

Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors, meeting remotely. Access meeting via Zoom ID: 882 1714 1058. 5 p.m., regular meeting: approve instructional material for 2021-22 school year, oath of office for Director Position 2.

Ridgefield School District Board of Directors, meeting at 510 Pioneer St., Ridgefield. Limited in-person capacity for citizen attendees. Masks and social distancing required. Meeting also available via Zoom ID: 810 0374 8215. 5 p.m., regular meeting: changes to revised board policy.

Washougal School District Board of Directors, meeting at 4855 Evergreen Way, Washougal. Limited in-person capacity for citizen attendees. Masks and social distancing required. Meeting also available via Zoom ID: 822 7449 3996, passcode: 735387. 5:15 p.m., executive session.  6:30 p.m., regular meeting: emergency waiver for high school graduation credits.

Evergreen Public Schools Board of Directors, meeting at Evergreen Room, 13501 N.E. 28th St., Vancouver. Meeting also available via Zoom ID: 868 2077 8925. 5:30 p.m., special meeting: quarterly bond update.

Clark County Public Health Advisory Council, meeting remotely. Go to https://zoom.us/j/95538168378?pwd=U0JYSDhETlRHZzNiUkVjT1o4VUZSdz09. 5:30 p.m., regular meeting: update on changes to restaurant inspections, budget update, director’s report, Transportation Systems Plan Sounding Board representative.

C-Tran Board of Directors, closed to in-person attendance. Available via WebEx Virtual Meeting. Dial 1-408-418-9388, code 187 006 4004. 5:30 p.m., regular meeting: Mill Plain BRT additional property, agreement with WSU Vancouver for free education opportunity pass, Mill Plain BRT Interlocal Agreement with Clark Public Utilities for utility relocations.

La Center Planning Commission, meeting remotely. 6:30 p.m., regular meeting: Planning Commission procedures, election of officers, 2021 Annual Comprehensive Plan update, Title 18 development code agreements.

Wednesday

Clark County Board of Health, meeting remotely. Broadcast on CVTV and cvtv.org or dial 408-418-9388, access code 187 026 5495. 9 a.m., meeting: COVID-19 update.

Port of Ridgefield Commission, closed to in-person attendance. By phone at 253-215-8782 or Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89323541358?pwd=bDhXRVNaYWtCRGV0ME1hR0dLZW5zdz09, meeting ID 893 2354 1358, passcode 006273. 3 p.m., regular meeting: no agenda provided.

Battle Ground Parks & Community Engagement Advisory Board, meeting remotely. Go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84067452514?pwd=RWV6VGFmcytQa1Y4akUvaGE1RnduQT09, meeting ID 840 6745 2514, passcode 110705.  5 p.m., regular meeting: Seasons Greetings sign, Park Appreciation Day, Park codes update, programs & community partnerships, re-opening update.

La Center City Council, meeting remotely. Go to www.gotomeet.me/LaCenterCouncilMeetings/city-council-meetings or dial 312-757-3129, access code 293-309-125.  6:30 p.m., regular meeting: Comcast franchise agreement, Building fee update, Hung annexation.

Ridgefield Parks Board, meeting remotely. 6:30 p.m., regular meeting: no agenda provided.

Battle Ground Planning Commission, meeting remotely. Go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89065540689 or dial 253-215-8782, meeting ID 890 6554 0689. 7 p.m., regular meeting: annual code amendments first review.

Thursday

Vancouver Downtown Redevelopment Authority, meeting remotely. Available at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/195019469 or dial 1-877-309-2073, conference ID 195-019-469. 11:30 a.m., regular meeting: Board member selection process, Q1 financial reports, manager reports, capital projects, 2020 audit status, lighting design, lobby/pool design process.

Vancouver City Center Redevelopment Authority, meeting remotely. Available at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/195019469 or dial 1-872-240-3212, conference ID 774-205-861 or https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/774205861. 12:30 p.m., regular meeting: Development reports, camping concerns, Renaissance Boardwalk development, Waterfront Gateway RFQ.

Clark County Planning Commission, meeting remotely. Go to http://bit.ly/April15PCWSAttendees, meeting no. 187 173 7244, password 1234. 5:30 p.m., regular meeting: Housing Actions Study & Action Plan.

Harrop: Henry Ford would’ve pushed car-charging stations
Author: Froma Harrop

When Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, he had a problem. There were almost no paved roads in America. To sell his product to the masses, he needed good roads.

No one would ever deny his place among titans of American capitalism, but Ford was not shy about urging the government to supply the infrastructure essential to his business. And it did.

The Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 spent $2.1 billion (in today’s dollars) to help states build modern roads. It survived a U.S. Supreme Court challenge claiming that the federal government should not pay for such things.

Besides, cars were a novelty at the time, and many asked, “Why even bother with them when horses can do the job on muddy paths?”

To which Ford is said to have quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Fast-forward to the unfounded criticism that no more than 7 percent of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan goes to real infrastructure, defined as roads, bridges and ports. It comes from Russell Vought, director of former President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget.

Vought is, to put it politely, full of it. We’re all for replacing worn-out bridges, but expanding access to high-speed broadband and strengthening the electric grid are infrastructure projects in the year 2021. And so, we would be helping our automakers transition to electric vehicles.

That’s where the world is going. Britain will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks in 2030, and California will in 2035. Norway, despite its huge oil and gas reserves, will do it in 2025. Strong domestic demand for this technology would grow the U.S. EV car industry, which has been falling behind the rest of the industrial world in sales.

If electric vehicles are the future, China has been grabbing it. China is the world’s largest market for EVs, accounting for 41 percent of global sales last year. Europe held 42 percent of world sales. And the United States? A paltry 2.4 percent.

A major theme of foreign policy prominent in the Biden infrastructure plan is helping America better compete with China in this area and elsewhere.

“We are one of the few major economies whose public investments in research and development have declined as a percent of GDP in the past 25 years,” the White House fact sheet complains. China, meanwhile, now ranks No. 2 in the world in R&D spending.

And so, what is Biden’s infrastructure plan doing about electric vehicles?

Importantly, it addresses the big reason more Americans haven’t been buying EVs in huge numbers: their understandable concern that they won’t find places to charge their batteries. That’s why it calls for building 500,000 charging stations by 2030. (There are currently only 100,000.)

The plan also includes incentives for buying electric vehicles. China offers such subsidies to its people, as does Europe. Note that the Trump administration tried to get rid of them altogether.

It also fought to kill California’s more stringent fuel economy standards, which act to spur EV sales. When Ford joined four automakers in making a deal with California, Trump revenge-tweeted that “Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants,” because they refused to fight the state’s regulators. He also falsely claimed that EVs are less safe.

Electric vehicle charging stations are as essential to the prosperity of today’s U.S. automakers as paved roads were to Henry Ford in 1908. Can anyone doubt that if Ford were with us today, he’d be on the talk shows banging the drums for Biden’s plan to support his industry?

Westneat: Rural areas in no mood to join herd
Author: Danny Westneat

Ever since early February, when some software volunteers debuted a website to help the public find COVID-19 vaccine appointments, they’ve had a unique window into the ebb and flow of what one engineer there dubbed “the spice.”

Who wants the vaccines, and who doesn’t? Where in the state are the shots snapped right up, and where are they left wanting? They noticed one major trend right from the start.

“Once you start driving east from Seattle, for a few hours, you can find vaccine easily and readily available,” says Jessica Chong, a University of Washington assistant professor of genetics who is volunteering as a data scientist for the WA COVID Vaccine Finder, at covidwa.com.

This regional disparity in vaccine thirst was a curiosity at first, but now has become cause for concern. The 10 counties with the lowest vaccination rates have all seen 22 percent or fewer of their residents get the first shot so far – with nine of those 10 being red counties east of the Cascades. That compares to 31 percent of the state starting the vaccination shots.

Why does this matter? Because public health officials say to reach herd immunity, to the point that life could return to a semblance of normal, 70 percent to 80 percent of state residents need to be immune. In Eastern Washington in particular, segments of society appear to be in no mood to be a part of any herd.

“Government can kiss my ass,” posted the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, on the topic of getting vaccinated. This was on the official Facebook page of the county’s GOP organization.

Chong, the covidwa.com data scientist, said there are many reasons counties could have varied vaccination rates, such as age demographics, language barriers and driving distance to vaccination sites. But with appointments going unused in more rural counties, it can’t be vaccine scarcity anymore.

“This has been studied, though,” she added. “The No. 1 correlating factor for whether you’ll get the vaccine is whether you voted for Trump.”

A new survey for the Economist found that among these “vaccine rejecters,” more continue to trust Trump for sound medical advice than trust the CDC or Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump did get vaccinated himself in January, but a majority of GOP voters told pollsters they hadn’t heard about that.

“Without vaccine hesitancy, we’d be in really good shape,” Carl Bergstrom, a UW evolutionary biologist, said in a commentary on herd immunity. “With vaccine hesitancy, it could be close here in the U.S. I’m hoping that much of the hesitancy we see is really more like … vaccine deliberation.”

Hope so, too. It’s perfectly understandable that people would be leery, or in “wait and see” mode. The data cited above suggests something else may be going on, though – something familiar and cultural that’s plagued us with the coronavirus from the start. Which is that America may be too tribal and rebellious to get to where 80 percent of us ever agree to do anything.

It was nearly a year ago that Clint Didier, Franklin County commissioner and local GOP chairman, suggested we go for herd immunity the old-fashioned way. “We can take care of this virus by letting the people catch it,” he said.

Even with a medicine available, it seems like in some quarters that’s still the plan.

Letter: Turn Gateway into transit center
Author: Philip Parker, Vancouver

Before the Waterfront Gateway area is sold to a developer (“Waterfront Gateway has suitors,” The Columbian, April 4), it should be considered for developing a multimodal transit center.

Building a MAX station there would make it possible to bring light rail to Vancouver with a minimum of disruption to downtown. Extending the C-Tran bus lines that serve downtown Vancouver to that location would make it possible to cover most of downtown with bus service. This space is available now and losing it would make bringing MAX to Vancouver someday much more expensive. And I do believe that the people in Vancouver will want to extend MAX to Vancouver sooner or later as the city grows.

A transit center is by nature pedestrian-oriented. Including small shops in a transit center would give riders access to shopping and the shops more foot traffic than in auto-oriented downtown Vancouver. I expect some of the developers that have shown an interest could come up with a very creative and pleasing transit-oriented plan meeting the requirements of the city.

Traffic congestion will grow as the city grows even with a new bridge. But the MAX crossing the river would help to relieve it on the new bridge, and also should be considered part of our plan to lessen our carbon footprint over the next 30 years.

 

 

 

 

Letter: Help dogs become socialized
Author: Rosemary Smith, Vancouver

It’s no secret that during lockdown there has been a huge boom in dog adoptions. With the current state of isolation, it only makes sense that more people are craving a canine companion. These “pandemic puppies” have had the benefit of more time from their owners dedicated to training and socialization.

Socialization, however, is exactly the problem. Though we humans are being forced to social distance, so are our dogs. Puppies are at their most receptive to new stimuli until about 16 weeks of age, during which time they need to be exposed to lots of situations that they might encounter during their life to learn how to react properly. This exposure is important, since dogs (much like us) fear the unknown, and can become nervous or aggressive in unfamiliar circumstances.

As an owner of one such “pandemic puppy,” I’m worried for this generation of dogs. I have hope that with the additional time many have found that these puppies can be socialized, but I know that is not the majority case. I urge anyone raising a puppy in isolation to seek out opportunities to expose them to new experiences before it’s too late.

 

‘Hard to budge’: Virginia researchers are studying COVID-19 vaccine myths
Author: Katherine Hafner, The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK, Va. – Many of us spent more time online in the past year after public health officials encouraged us to distance ourselves from each other and stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the safer way to live. But the online world has its dangers related to the virus, too.

The internet has been a breeding ground for misinformation about the pandemic, so much so that the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 the first “infodemic.”

At Virginia Tech, researchers have been studying the phenomenon. With a $25,000 grant from the university’s Fralin Life Sciences Institute, research assistant professor Michelle Rockwell formed an interdisciplinary team focused on learning more about how misinformation on social media influences people’s plans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Rockwell said she was first interested in social media messaging around health care more generally, “but how could we be interested in anything else (but the vaccine) right now?”

Misinformation is different from disinformation. While the latter is distributed purposefully to sow confusion or depress knowledge – think Russian hackers – the former is simply false information that gets circulated.

The Virginia Tech team decided to focus its study on how misinformation is perceived in the Appalachian region, believing that community to be particularly vulnerable due in part to historically worse access to quality health care.

The researchers designed a social media simulation to see if a post warning people to look out for misinformation would affect people’s perceptions of stories they saw afterward. Rather than a flag – a type of warning label that Facebook, for example, has started adding to posts notifying users to possible misinformation – the warning they used was a social media post itself, discussing misinformation about the vaccine.

The study participants – 1,048 people in the 13-state Appalachian region, half in rural areas and half not – saw either a neutral post or a warning post in their social media feed. It was designed to look like it was coming from different sources, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden; a local hospital; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; or the individual’s health provider.

After seeing such a warning, people were 40% less likely to rate an erroneous story about the coronavirus vaccine as accurate, and 60% less likely to share it, Rockwell said. The researchers call that a “nudge” from a trusted health influencer.

The Virginia researchers based the misinformation test posts on four COVID-19 vaccine myths they have seen persist online:

  • That the vaccine can cause infertility. Almost half of respondents to the Virginia study said they believed this. The myth likely originated in a letter sent to the European equivalent of the FDA, according to health news organization STAT. The letter erroneously claimed that the vaccine contains a spike protein called syncytin-1 that is vital for women’s placentas. Coronavirus vaccines in fact do not contain syncytin-1, nor do they instruct women’s bodies to generate it. There has been valid debate over whether pregnant women should opt for a vaccine. Medical experts now say they should because infection from COVID-19 can increase risk for complications that outweigh possible vaccine side effects.
  • That there is a high risk of serious side effects, including paralysis. About 40% of respondents believed a story about a high percentage of vaccine recipients experiencing such side effects. Here’s the truth: The most common side effects are swelling, redness and pain around the site of injection, as well as headache, muscle pain, nausea, fever and chills for a short time following the shot. Women have been reporting more side effects than men, possibly because of their stronger immune response. But extreme effects, like paralysis, are not on the list. There’s also an inherent perception problem, experts say: If someone receives a vaccine and then experiences a health problem that might have happened anyway, such as a heart attack, people could draw conclusions that they were related.
  • That Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates created the vaccine to install microchipped tracking devices in people. About 40% believed this. It’s simply not true. The rumors may have been propelled, as the BBC reported, when Gates said in an interview last year that eventually we “will have some digital certificates” showing who had recovered or been tested for the virus. He was referring to the idea of an open-source digital platform to share information, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation later clarified. There was never any mention of microchips. The foundation has pledged millions of dollars to efforts fighting the coronavirus, particularly in low-income countries, but was not involved in developing the vaccines currently on the market.
  • That vaccines aren’t real because the coronavirus and pandemic aren’t real, either. Less than 20% believed this.

The myths “are sure hard to budge,” Rockwell said.

So how best to combat the infodemic?

“There are gobs of information, and it’s evolving so quickly,” she said. “A very subtle pause and reminder that this (misinformation) is out there, could make such a powerful difference.”

That’s especially true, they found, when the source is your own doctor.

In a survey, the Virginia Tech team found that trust in science and trust in health care in general were the biggest predictors of a person’s readiness to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Younger people and those in more rural areas tended to be less likely to say they’d get a shot.

But when asked who was the most trusted health messenger, or where they’d prefer to get a vaccine if they did, primary care physicians “far and away” topped the list.

As part of the grant, the team is now working with business analytics to track language about the vaccine across Twitter and Reddit through a process called context mapping.

In the meantime, researchers hope their early findings can help inform public health officials on how to best get people accurate information from sources they trust.

Letter: Help all Americans achieve dream
Author: Ken Simpson, Vancouver

In 1931, historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “American Dream” to capture the optimism of the American people. It’s built upon the self-evident truth, identified by Thomas Jefferson, that all men are created equal.

But Jefferson’s American dream included enslaving more than 600 people. Later, when the multicultural children of immigrant factory workers found social mobility and economic security, all Americans were not included. Today, competing visions of the American dream are driving Democrats and Republicans apart.

Democrats have wholeheartedly embraced the rights revolution and its new definition of the American dream. They want to champion diversity by expanding rights and individual choice to those who have been historically overlooked.

Meanwhile, symbols of white supremacy along with Trump banners were on full display at the U.S. Capitol riot. Are extremists, who are not interested in enlarging the American dream to everyone, winning the battle for the GOP’s soul?

Now we have dueling legislations. President Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill provides both a handout and a hand up to all challenged American workers, while Republican state lawmakers have proposed election laws that would limit minority voters.

It’s a struggle to determine what the American dream will mean in America’s future.

 

Seattle Times Opinion

Scared white people acting out is as American as …
Author: Leonard Pitts Jr.

A disruptive demographic change is upon us. It represents a challenge, yes, but also an opportunity. To meet the one and seize the other will require a clear-eyed view of what we are and some strategy that delivers us to what we ought to be.

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